VANCOUVER, B.C. - Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn gave Los Angeles Kings blue-liner Drew Doughty some good news Friday morning - so good, in fact, that Doughty didn't believe him at first.
Schenn called to tell his good friend that he had been nominated for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top defenceman.
"I didn't know that they were announcing the finalists today, so he told me and right away I called my dad to look up on the NHL site and see if it was true," Doughty said after the Kings' morning skate in preparation for Game 5 of their opening-round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks.
At 20 years and four months old, Doughty could become the youngest winner since Bobby Orr captured his first of a record eight consecutive Norris trophies. Orr won his first in 1968, aged 20 years and three months.
"It's pretty cool," said Doughty, a London, Ont., native. "Bobby Orr was obviously one of the best defencemen to ever play the game. To be close to what he did is kind of surprising, I guess, to me, but it's obviously very humbling and it's a big honour as well."
The other Norris candidates are Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, who led NHL defencemen in scoring with 76 points, and Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, who finished second with 69 points.
Doughty was third among blue-liners with 59 points (16 goals, 43 assists), but his other credentials could be enough to earn him the Norris. He was a key member of Canada's gold-medal entry at the Olympics in Vancouver, and his strong season led the Kings to their first playoff appearance in eight seasons.
"My first goal was just to play hard for the Kings and make them a playoff team and, obviously, get a shot at making the Olympic team," said Doughty. "As the season wore on, I kind of knew that I was being mentioned in that category, so I made it my goal to, hopefully, be a finalist."
Kings coach Terry Murray said Doughty has earned the nomination while developing his skills and getting good guidance from his minor hockey mentors.
"But a lot of it is skill, a lot of it is innate talent," said Murray. "Some guys step on the ice and they're just able to play the game at a high level. That's also a part of it with Doughty."
Kings captain Dustin Brown raved about Doughty's grasp of the game.
"He's one of those guys that gets himself in tight situations and somehow finds a way out," said Brown. "He's fun to watch and play with."
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said that Doughty has demonstrated everything that it takes to be an impact player during his two-year tenure in the NHL. The Vancouver bench boss praised him for playing "extremely well" under pressure.
"You just have to look at what he did this year in the Olympics," said Vigneault. "He was definitely one of the best defencemen on the ice for Team Canada."
Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was tired of talking about his former Olympic teammate after heaping praise on him earlier in the series. But he talked about him anyway.
"Yeah, he's skilled," said Luongo. "I mean, I've talked about him a handful of times already in the series, so I've pretty much said all there is to say about him. But, obviously, he's a skilled player and deserves what he's receiving."
Luongo said he would never have predicted before the Games that Doughty would be nominated for the Norris.
"If you would have asked before the Olympics, I would have been surprised," said Luongo. "But now, I mean, I've played with him and obviously watched him play this series. So I'm not surprised at all."
The winner will be announced June 23.